How to apply to the European Court: application rules
When all instances in the country have been passed, but justice has not been restored, it is time to seek protection in the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. And here we are faced with a problem: how to apply to the European Court and not get a refusal? We have compiled a list of recommendations that will help to correctly formulate a reasoned complaint and reach a positive conclusion.
Why do we need a European court?
In 1953, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights began to operate, which brought together the rights and freedoms of citizens, and also created a tool to protect them - the European Court, whose seat was Strasbourg, France. Its task is to restore justice in relation to those who could not achieve it within their native state.
In other words, if you are unreasonably accused of a crime, you, having passed the courts of all levels in your country and not having obtained an acquittal, can turn to the European Court of Justice,making a complaint to his state and to call him to account.
From year to year the number of claims to the European Court is steadily increasing, but at the same time the number of failures received in response to incorrectly filed complaints is increasing. Today, every 2 of the three lawsuits filed with the Strasbourg Court are rejected due to improper filling of the application form or the failure to provide sufficient information. To avoid such consequences, follow our recommendations.
Conditions for receiving complaints by the European Court
In order for the application to be properly registered and accepted for production, several conditions must be met:
1. When referring to the European Court for help, keep in mind: he does not consider cases between two individuals, and therefore it will not be possible to file a lawsuit against a neighbor who stole a tire from your garage. This instance is authorized to intervene in conflicts between a private / legal entity and a state, and only when there has been a violation of the human rights set forth in the European Convention.
For example, you were convicted, despite the lack of evidence or on the basis of a confession,received under pressure from the investigator during the interrogation, and none of the instances, up to the Supreme Court, issued a positive verdict on your appeal. Now you can sue the European Court against your state, which violated the Convention, without protecting your civil rights.
2. We have already mentioned: first, you must go through all levels of legal proceedings in your country (up to the Supreme). Only after you have exhausted all opportunities to defend your interests in your homeland, will it be possible to try to find support in Strasbourg.
Please note: the court will only deal with those statements that relate to the rights and freedoms proclaimed by the Convention. In addition, your country must be listed among the states whose signature is under the European Convention on Human Rights and its annexed protocols.
Check whether your country is in the list of signatories of this document, please visit http://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=applicants/ol&c=.
3. The court only considers complaints filed no later than six months after the last ruling of the national court in your case. For example, the Supreme Court decided on your claim / appeal on June 1.So, by the end of November you have time to go to Strasbourg. However, it is not worth delaying, since the date of the appeal is not the number indicated by you in the application, but the day the letter is received by the European Court.
4. All information stated in the application must be documented. Those. By the time you file your complaint, you must have the decisions of all the courts where your case was previously considered.
The Strasbourg Court refuses to consider applications:
- written anonymously. The absence of a signature on such complaints, from the point of view of lawyers, indicates the author’s disinterest in the positive outcome of the case or speak of its dishonesty.
Information about cases considered by the European Court is stored on its website in the public domain. You can file a petition for anonymity, justifying your request. If the judge finds your arguments convincing, you will be granted anonymity.
- which have already been considered by the Strasbourg Court or are currently being considered by other international organizations (for example, in the UN). This is analogous to the fact that you try to file a lawsuit in one case in parallel in two courts: what if one of them takes the right decision.
- being unreasonable.This most often happens when citizens apply in a case that is not within the jurisdiction of the European Court. For example, they want to sue a country that does not sign the Convention on Human Rights.
The initial review and consideration of documents in the European Court takes six months. During this period, you will either receive a reasonable refusal, or you will receive a request for the provision of missing documents, or a final conclusion on your case.
How to make a complaint to the European Court?
To apply to the European Court, you will have to fill out an application form, the form of which is located on the official website of this organization (we specified the URL address above). Since how correctly and professionally a complaint will be made depends on its acceptance for consideration, we advise you to seek the help of a lawyer or a lawyer who already has experience writing such statements. If this is not possible, follow our advice.
A complaint can be made in one of the official languages of your country. You will also receive the initial answer in your own language. But if the court will be forced to seek comments from the state,to which you are suing, from now on all letters and documents will be drawn up in English or French, since in the European Court they are considered official.
The text should be written clearly, and it is better to type. Express your thoughts briefly and clearly, do not use abbreviations, symbols and abbreviations: foreigners will not decipher them, but return you the complaint as incorrectly executed. Fill out all the boxes that are relevant to you, otherwise you will receive a statement back marked “not enough data”.
When printing the application, leave the fields 3.5 cm wide. The font size of the basic information should be less than 12, footnotes should be at least 12. The application pages are not stapled and not attached. The same applies to the attached copies of documents, you should only number their sheets.
The facts that you indicate in the complaint must be filed in chronological order and all documented. No need to attach original documents: they will not return to you, use only copies.
When specifying the subject of the complaint, follow the rules:
- Be sure to refer to the articles of the Convention that, in your opinion, have been violated.Indicate what you want to achieve in court, not forgetting to write about which state you are filing a complaint with;
- Avoid detailed descriptions and long quotations, just attach copies of relevant documents and make references to them (for example, a decision on deportation, a court order, a notice of eviction, etc.);
- the absence of a copy of any document should be justified: you should write for what reasons you cannot provide this paper;
- if you filed a complaint with international organizations, write about it, briefly stating their conclusion and attaching copies of the decisions.
Personal complaint is optional. Send it by mail to:
European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
67075 STRASBOURG CEDEX
Now you know how to appeal to the European Court, but we hope that you will not have a reason for this.